Response to MHRD minister Ms. Smriti Irani’s statements dated 20.01.2016

Press release by Joint action committee for Social Justice, University of Hyderabad

 We strongly condemn the statements and misrepresentation of facts made by the union minister of HRD Ms. Smriti Irani.

SmritiIrani jpg 2703669g

(Human Resource and Development Minister Smriti Irani addresses a press conference over the suicide of a 26-year-old researcher of University of Hyderabad. Photo: Special Arrangement, Source:The Hindu)

1. We would like to make a correction about the deliberate misrepresentation of the fact that the Executive council sub-committee, that took the decision to suspend the students, was headed by a Dalit Professor, whereas the committee was headed by a upper caste professor named Bipin Srivastava (the Dean of Physics department, who was the dean at the time when Senthil Kumar another Dalit research scholar in department was ‘forced’ to commit suicide).

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Dreams of a shining star

 

Rajeev R Singh

'I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.' – from Rohith Chakravarthi Vemula's 'suicide note', 17th January 2016.

rohith vemula

The death of this shining star of the University of Hyderabad has once again brought to the fore the plight of the Dalit and other students from disadvantaged communities. The situation is particularly bad for those who dare to defy social norms and try to get into that segment of society or take on those roles that are not considered by the upper castes to belong to them. On one hand, their aspirations and dreams – no matter how high, are crushed before their very eyes, while on the other, elite students are told to 'dream big' as 'unless you dream big, how will you attain it?'

Caste discrimination is not new and continues to be rampant even in places which are part of 'modern' and 'cosmopolitan' India, that is supposedly 'dynamic' and 'forward looking'. While existence of separate kitchens for the Dalits was reported from the police lines of Patna last year, some years back the same scenario was highlighted to be in practice at the University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. At that time too, SC/ST medicos of the UCMS were protesting rampant caste discrimination in their college and they were severely beaten up by the upper caste students and faculty of their college. Discriminatory practices in the cooking and distribution of mid-day meals across the schools of the country are so routine that they have stopped making news.

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Rohith Vemula's Murder: The Roots lie in the Social Order

 

Anitya Sanket

Rohith Vemula's 'suicide' case has caught the nation's attention through the media and it is gaining a lot of support too. Seen through the mainstream media's eye, in the ongoing series of protests carried out by the Dalit students in various places and institutions one thing is evident that Rohith was suspended along with 4 of his friends for protesting against Yakub Menon's hanging, which according to the ABVP was as anti-national. As a result, they had allegedly written a letter to Bandaru Dattatreya out of 'concern'. And a series of letters followed which eventually led Rohith to commit suicide. Also, some news channels have gone to the extent of portraying Rohith as the one who made this argument violent by injuring one of the ABVP students.

rohith vemula

The media is trying its best to evade the real issue and is limiting it to the BJP, ABVP and the Congress. After analyzing the programs on the case, as shown on both the English and Hindi news channels, the one thing we find in common is that they are trying to portray Rohith as one who was unable to handle the pressure and was thus driven to suicide.

Let's not be confined to the ABVP, BJP and the Congress. The battle is between Brahmanism and Abrahmanism. Dalit students face discrimination both inside and outside of the institutions. They are the victims of inhuman stereotypes. As Rohith's alleged suicide note says, he was an unappreciated child and was possibly never given credit for what he deserved. This one sentence is harped on in the Indian media. Can we really just limit this case to his personal problems?

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Here’s the smell of the blood still...

 

Dr. N. Sukumar

Here's the smell of the blood still; All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.1

On April 8, 1929, Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly "to make the deaf hear"2 as their leaflet described the reason for their act. The bomb, deliberately of low intensity, was thrown to protest the repressive Public Safety Bill and Trades Dispute Bill and the arrest of 31 labour leaders in March 1929. Rewind to 2015, the independent Indian State is willing to march step by step with the colonial state when it comes to the brutal repression of people's rights. When Yakub Memon was executed on July 30, 2015, there were murmurs about a possible miscarriage of justice. The Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) in Hyderabad University took out a protest march against the judicial execution.

rohith vemula 1

In any 'free' country, protests symbolize a 'healthy and functioning' democracy, however under the current political dispensation, the message is bold and clear, 'if you are not with us, you are against us'. Like Bush Junior's famous axis of evil, the list of anti-national elements is ever expanding- Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Maoists, Writers, RTI activists, beefeaters, anyone who voices a 'different' opinion. The public sphere is neatly demarcated by the Hindutva/nationalist ideologues who label anyone they dislike with opprobrious epithets, the most powerful being-anti-national. Once you are stuck with such a label, the fascists enjoy the power of judge, jury and executioner over the hapless targets.

The self-styled guardian of 'national interests' in many educational institutions is the ABVP, the student wing of the BJP. It's a foregone conclusion that their natural enemies would be all the sections listed above who do not conform to their idea of a nation. The ASA and ABVP clashed in Hyderabad University after the protests against Yakub Memon's judicial execution and the derogatory comments by the ABVP President.

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From shadows to the stars...

 

Rohith Vemula's last message

Good morning,

 I would not be around when you read this letter. Don't get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.

rohith vemula 1

 I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt.

The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.

I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense.

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What is actually happening in University of Hyderabad

 

R Ravi Kumar

Dear friends, Hope by now you came to know of the unfortunate incident that took place in the University of Hyderabad.

We shall not see this incident in isolation. Let me explain you in brief what triggered the series of events in HCU. The Ambedkar Students Association started their agitation against the capital punishment still in existence in IPC. As followers of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's ideology and as sensitive human rights defenders, they started the protest well with in the Constitutional framework about 6 months back. The right wing ABVP members who are against the agitation to scrap capital punishment were very angry with the ASA and started mudslinging on ASA.

rohith vemula

Having gathered their strength on the campus with the appointment of Dr. P. Apparao as VC and their BJP /RSS members outside the campus resorted to direct attack on the leadership of ASA. ASA members also protested the proposal of the university soon after Apparao became the VC. That is to ban students from wearing vetti or lungi at the recently held convocation. Finally, the VC had to go back on his proposal of leaving the choice to the students to wear vetti or lungi.

Much aggravated by these two incidents, ABVP leaders wrote inflicting and character assassinating comments on his facebook about ASA leaders.

Having seen this, ASA members dragged the ABVP leaders to the security officer and got them deleted. Further. the ABVP person apologized for the same.

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An Appeal to the Struggling Masses

 

Joint Action Committee for Social Justice (UoH)

Five Dalit research scholars at University of Hyderabad have been subjected to suspension from hostels and social boycott barring them from accessing the hostels, administration building, public places and participating in Students' Union elections. This is in the context of the incidents that unfolded on 03/08/2015 and 04/08/2015. Following the vandalism by ABVP in the screening of 'Muzzaffar nagar Baqi Hai' in Delhi University, Ambedkar Students' Association (ASA), University of Hyderabad organized a protest movie screening of the documentary. After the screening, the ABVP President Susheel Kumar posted abusive statement on Facebook calling ASA cadre "goons". ASA demanded an apology from the President of ABVP in the presence of security following which Susheel Kumar apologized to the ASA cadre and left the campus the same night. He got himself admitted in Archana hospital, Hyderabad accusing cadre of ASA of physically assaulting him and filed a false police complaint by targeting five members of ASA one of whom was not even present on the day of the incident.

Expelled students forced to vacate hostels

The proctorial board that was chaired by the Chief Proctor Prof. Alok Pandey enquired on the incident and released a report clearly stating that there was no instance of physical assault on the ABVP president. However, Prof. Alok Pandey ordered for suspension. All the progressive and democratic student organizations protested against this atrocious decision taken by the University administration. The former Vice Chancellor Prof. R. P. Sharma revoked the suspension and constituted a new committee to conduct a fresh enquiry. However, the new committee was scrapped arbitrarily and the Executive Council, the highest apex body of the University took a decision of suspension from hostels and social boycott without any investigation. The socially boycotted Dalit research scholars approached the high court for seeking justice.

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Namdeo Dhasal's unique imagination and unparalleled language

 

 Yogesh Maitreya

The Sun that was leaked,

Being dimmed

Into the bosom of the night,

Then I was born

On footpath…

~ Namdeo Dhasal

It was a nippy and brooding winter of 2011 in Nagpur; I was in second year of Bachelor’s degree. Books, especially poetry and novels became the sole escape from material failures and the emotional turmoil I suffered from. Pursuing English literature as a major subject within Bachelor’s degree course, I have mostly read English novels and poetry and I must confess that they deceitfully provided me the scope to lose myself in them. Couple of years later, as I was introduced to the writings of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and other writings in Marathi by Dalit writers, I acquired the sense that words can deceive you if you read them without understanding the politics of a writer. During these three years of college life in Nagpur, I was cleverly kept away from the realities of people like me; but who kept me away? Strangely, the answer is: writers, whose novels and poetry I had read. Much of the English novels I read during this period were by Brahmin writers. And I know what I mean to say when I say this now.

dhasal1

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Riddles in Moditva: Publishing Ambedkar without AoC & Riddles in Hinduism

 

Dilip Mandal

dilip mandal india today 1So, for you, what are the most seminal texts of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the constitution maker of India? What names come to your mind or your imagination?

Is it Annihilation of Caste (AoC), or is it Riddles in Hinduism (RiH) or is it something to do with the Roundtable Conference or his works related to Poona Pact, or his debates with Gandhi or all of these?

Now imagine a set of books, with the branding of Collected Works of Bhimrao Ambedkar (CWBA) having none of these texts, but someone is still calling them as the CWBA. And that 'someone', in this instance, is nobody other than the Modi Government.

This is exactly the farce that is being played out now. Ambedkar Foundation, a Government of India body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the sole publisher of Babasaheb's writings and speeches in Hindi, is selling CWBA without 11 books from the set.The missing books include AoC and RiH.

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Casteism and Ways of Removing Casteism

 

Mahitosh Mandal

Photo Mahitosh MandalCasteism is caste-based prejudice deriving from Brahminical values and giving birth to discrimination and violence against those belonging to the Dalit-Bahujan communities, the ‘marginalized majority’[1] of this country. This is a kind of simple definition. But this has layers of implication.

Let us begin with an anecdote that would give us one of the subtlest instances of casteism in the form of unacknowledged ignorance and insensitivity towards the caste question.

Reportedly[2], once a non-Bengali asked Sunil Gangopadhyay, the then Chairman of the Sahitya Akademi, about the nature and scope of Bengali Dalit literature. Sunil said there was no such thing called Dalit literature in Bengal. Sunil was wrong; Sunil had no idea about the history of hundred years of Dalit literature produced by the Bengali Dalit writers. This ignorance, this neglect about the sufferings and wisdom of hundreds of Dalit Bahujans – that too coming from a Bengali Brahmin heterosexual male intellectual – is a pure instance of casteism. His bold assertion about the absence of Dalit writing in Bengal makes us put a question mark on his role as an intellectual. Antonio Gramsci[3] once said that those intellectuals who reign at the top run the risk of serving the interests of the dominant groups and of suppressing the alternative revolutionary voices. Gramsci had Bendetto Croce in mind, among others. People like Sunil Gangopadhyay who reign at the top of Bengali intellectual life should take the initiative of nurturing the alternative revolutionary voices, the voices of those ‘organic’ intellectuals who talk on behalf of their communities. At this point of time, in Bengal, there is a strange set of intellectuals who are constantly involved in narcissistic self-proclamation leading to their being hero-worshipped but who contribute almost nothing to concrete structural change of society.

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Violation of Constitutional Rights of 5 Dalit scholars By University of Hyderabad administration: Fact Finding Report

 

Dalit Sthree Sakthi

Certain abusive comments in the Facebook and subsequent skirmishes on 3rd and 4th August 2015 led to the expulsion of a few scheduled castes Ph.D scholars of University of Hyderabad and it was alleged that the authorities of the University of Hyderabad had taken unilateral action on a few scholars belonging to Scheduled Castes at the behest of political pressure. Upon knowing about the incident, DSS conducted a fact finding on 7-1-2016 with 5 members. The fact finding team met all available and concerned students, examined the relevant reports of various committees and other orders passed by the University and prepared the following report.

Expelled students forced to vacate hostels

 Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) is a Scheduled Caste Students Union having a strong base in University of Hyderabad since many years. On the day of the incident i.e., on 3rd August 2015, ASA has been informed that one Mr. Susheel Kumar, President of ABVP-UoH, an inmate of the University, posted defamatory and disparaging comments in the Face Book calling Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) as goons. The students of ASA being inmates in the University have asked him to remove the defamatory comments and upon their deliberation he voluntarily submitted his apology letter to ASA and handed it over to Security Officer.These deliberations took place on 3rd August and in the presence of the then duty security officer of 'C' shift of UoH, and several other students.

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The Scholarship Crisis

 

Ankit Gautam

ankit gautamIn any society, the intellectuals are one of the most powerful classes of people; this much has been established beyond the shadow of a doubt. The consciousness of a society is shaped and regulated by the knowledge produced by the same intellectuals. In any society, there is always a struggle for power and the intellectuals could play a pivotal role in any shift in the balance of power.The domain of knowledge production has been the essence of maintaining hegemony in the society. However, despite being such a powerful domain, it has been kept in the shadows to keep it safe from much turbulence. The reason being that in the domain of knowledge production, the already established hegemons devise measures to maintain their hegemony and dominance. It is from here the decision to justify, legitimize and make something credible is taken and literature is produced. If there is no opposition then the 'peer reviewing' tries to offer some false opposition and establish it as the legitimate discourse on any given issue.

In the context of India, Brahmins have always hegemonized the domain of knowledge production and it has been their monopoly, whether one approaches the so-called Indian Left, the right wing or the secular discourses. All these have been surreptitiously titled under the overarching Brahmanical worldview. The discourses from the caste subalterns have been treated with the policy of a cognitive blackout. The best example of this was observed during the Presidential debate in JNU elections for the session 2015-16 where the political front of Mulnivasi Bahujan students, BAPSA, contested elections and during the question-answer round, the presidential candidates of the three political parties resorted to not asking any question and thus refraining from giving any recognition.

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